Florida Senate confirms controversial DeSantis pick for surgeon general

Florida Attorney General Joseph Ladapo
Associated Press/Chris O'Meara, file

The Florida State Senate on Wednesday approved Gov. Ron DeSantis’s (R-Fla.) nominee to be the state’s Surgeon General who has publicly opposed federal health policies to combat the COVID-19 pandemic, including masking and vaccine mandates.

Joseph Ladapo was approved to be Florida Surgeon General by the state’s Republican-controlled Senate amid continued scrutiny from Florida Democrats on how he plans on handling the COVID-19 pandemic.

“People have opinions, I know that things have been pretty politically charged, but I want to assure everyone that I’m really passionate about health, good health,” Ladapo said after his confirmation, according to The Associated Press.

“I’ve been consistently talking good health from the beginning of the pandemic, holistically and not in one particular lane, so that’s what I’ll continue doing as the surgeon general,” he added.

Ladapo, who was nominated by DeSantis in September, has garnered controversy due to his apparent relaxed approach to COVID-19 policies. Earlier this month, Ladapo declined to disclose his vaccination status when pressed by Democrats.

While he has acknowledged that vaccines can prevent hospitalizations and deaths, he has also been quick to point out evidence that vaccine effectiveness declines over time. He has previously avoided saying whether he believes vaccines are effective when pressed by lawmakers.

Ladapo had also previously refused to wear a mask in October while meeting with a Florida Democratic lawmaker who had been diagnosed with breast cancer, saying that he did not consider speaking with a mask on to be “productive.”

As the AP noted, Democratic Florida state Sen. Jason W. B. Pizzo noted Ladapo’s “noncommittal” approach and said it made him look like a “yes man.”

“And we can’t have the third-largest state in the country’s top doctor being a yes man to a politician,” Pizzo said on Wednesday.

Last month, state Democrats walked out of a vote to advance Ladapo’s confirmation, expressing frustration with the answers he was giving lawmakers.

Sen. Janet Cruz (D) said at the time that she was hearing “arrogance and polite avoidance” from Ladapo and said his answers were “mired in words upon words and nonsense.”

Tags confirmation COVID-19 Department of Health Florida Florida Republicans Joseph Ladapo mask mandates Ron DeSantis
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